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World-first Australian truffle find

An Australian scientist has made a discovery which is electrifying world fungal biology a new truffle genus related to the famous Amanita family, or fairy toadstools.

The Amanita family is famed worldwide for the red and white-spotted toadstools beloved of children's fairy tales, the lethal Death Cap beloved of tabloid media, and a range of delicious edible fungi beloved of gourmets.

The find, by CSIRO Forestry and Forest Products mycologist Dr Neale Bougher, highlights Australia as one of the richest centers of truffle biodiversity on the planet. Until Dr Bougher discovered the new fungus in the rejuvenating forest landscape of a former bauxite mine near Perth, WA, no one had ever found a truffle or underground mushroom - related to Amanita.

"It's not just a new species. It's a whole new genus," he explains. "Scientists have been looking for this round the world for well over a century and here it is, in Australia."

Since the original find by Dr Bougher, he and colleague Dr Teresa Lebel of Melbourne's Royal Botanic Gardens, have identified no fewer than five new species of what has now been scientifically named Amarrendia a marriage of the names Amanita and Torrendia, the two families of fungi most closely related to the discovery.

The CSIRO researcher was part of a team studying landscape rehabilitation at the Darling Escarpment bauxite mine run by Alcoa World Alumina Australia - regarded as a global benchmark for successful restoration when he literally unearthed the new genus.

"I had my suspicions the moment I picked it up in the field. I got a bit excited but I couldn't be absolutely certain. So I rushed back to the lab and put it under the microscope and, immediately I saw the characteristic Amanita structures.

"I went crazy. At least, I am sure the people in the lab thought I was crazy. I was yelling "This has got to be a truffle Amanita," the (normally quite cool) Dr Bougher recalls.

The truffles in qu
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Contact: Rosie Schmedding
Rosie.Schmedding@csiro.au
+61-2-6276-6520
CSIRO Australia
7-Jan-2003


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